Bellwood Library Board Approves Historic 3-Year Strategic Plan

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 4:25 p.m.

During a Sept. 10 regular meeting, the Bellwood Public Library Board of Trustees unanimously approved what is likely the library’s first-ever strategic plan. Board members Michael Horton and Deborah Giles was absent.

Amy Crump, the Bellwood library’s executive director since December, and Dorothy Clark-Smith, the library board president, said that one of Crump’s first directives from the board was to develop a plan to guide the library’s progress.

“We had never had a strategic plan before,” Clark-Smith said. “I would attend conferences and people would talk about strategic planning, but there was never one created for us — until now.”

Crump said that she’s been involved in developing strategic plans at previous libraries where she’s worked.

She said that an outside consultant, Amanda Standerfer, of Standerfer Consulting, facilitated the process of creating the Bellwood library’s strategic plan, which entailed administering community surveys, focus groups, board retreats and staff retreats, among other outreach efforts.

The consultant presented a draft proposal of the plan to the library board in August before it was finally approved at the meeting on Tuesday.

Library officials created an overview of the general board’s general goals, which include offering “modern, innovative spaces to engage” the community and helping patrons “access technology to improve their lives.”

Those goals, Crump said, will guide more concrete activities that the library board and staff will initiate within the next three years (the plan is effective Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2022).

“Starting next year, the community will see an immediate increase in the types of events and programs the library has,” Crump said. “We’re trying to appeal to a wide range of interests and ages.”

The library has already laid the foundation for implementing those improvements. Last month, Crump hired two new staffers to facilitate youth programming: Kelsey Westenberg, the new youth librarian and Elise Feltman, the part-time teen librarian.

Clark-Smith said that the board wants to see a range of changes related to the strategic plan, including the creation of a dedicated space within the library for veterans, a new boiler, a Maker Space and more STEAM (science, technology, engineering arts and math) programming for young people and senior citizens, among other ideas.

Going forward, Crump said, the library wants to open itself up even more to the community.

“We are interested in community participation,” she said. “We would like to have community members who have a special skill or something they’d like to build a program around and incorporate that into the strategic plan. We want the community to feel a sense of ownership for the Bellwood Public Library.” VFP

Below is an overview of the Bellwood Public Library’s strategic plan. Fore more info on the library, call (708) 547-7393.

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